EXCLUSIVE-Maple says no need to hike "strong" TMX bid

Wed Jul 6, 2011 10:32pm BST

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* Bertrand says 70 percent shareholder support "realistic"

* Signals there's no need to raise bid again

* Says has strong case with regulators

(Adds details)

By John McCrank and Solarina Ho

TORONTO, July 6 (Reuters) - Maple Group Acquisition Corp is confident its current bid for Toronto Stock Exchange operator TMX Group (X.TO) will get both shareholder and regulatory support, the consortium's chief representative said.

London Stock Exchange's (LSE.L) rival friendly bid for TMX collapsed a week ago when it became apparent it did not have sufficient shareholder support to reach the two-thirds threshold needed for it to go through.

"Now that we've gone over the very important step of not having the LSE proposal proceed ... we're of the view that the 70 percent (shareholder support) is, in terms of reaching it, very realistic," Maple's chief representative, Luc Bertrand, told Reuters on Wednesday.

TMX shareholders have until Aug. 8 to tender their shares to Maple's C$3.8 billion ($3.94 billion) offer.

The bid from Maple, a consortium of Canada's largest banks and pension funds, is conditional on getting regulatory clearance to integrate the Toronto exchange with its largest competitor, alternative trading platform Alpha, which is already controlled by Canadian banks. Critics say the combination would give Maple too much control over the market.

Bertrand, 56, said Maple is working with Canada's Competition Bureau on its submission and that it has a very strong case.

Bertrand, who is also vice-chairman of Maple member National Bank of Canada (NA.TO), indicated that Maple does not believe it needs to raise its bid again to get more shareholders onside.

"This is as strong a bid as you can possibly imagine, so we're very comfortable with our proposal and we think it's fair to shareholders."

Bertrand said Maple is fully committed to completing the acquisition, but hopes it can do so on friendly terms.

($1=$0.97 Canadian)

(Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Peter Galloway)

((solarina.ho@thomsonreuters.com;+1 416 941 8067; Reuters Messaging: solarina.ho.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: TMX/MAPLE

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